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Petr Cech column: How Tottenham rivalry lives on

In this week’s column by our great former goalkeeper who is now technical and performance advisor at Chelsea, he reflects on the current team’s big derby win at the weekend and how the importance of beating Tottenham was ingrained in him and his team-mates. He also counts down to an early start in the meeting between the European champions and the Premier League champions this Saturday…

The team have achieved two wins in the past week, last night on penalties in the Carabao Cup, which in the hierarchy of all the trophies is probably not that high but at the same time, it is a cup and it's always good to add it to your CV. 

Every time you win something it is a pleasure for everyone and for the players who had played less in the recent weeks, these rounds of the competition is their moment for game time, and if you take it in the right way and you keep winning, it is better for everyone.

Last Sunday was a very good win, not only for the fact we were playing a team who were near the top of the table with us, but it was Spurs, a rivalry, a big game for everyone.

'JT said you will see this is the one we cannot lose.'

photo of Petr Cech Petr Cech

Over the years the rivalry against Tottenham gets passed down from Chelsea team to Chelsea team. Before the first game I played against them, JT, as captain, explained it is going to be different, you have to win this game!

People who have been in the club for a long time, they know about it, and it is explained to the new players and the foreign players why this game is important, that it is going to be completely different than the games before, and actually, it was.

Once you walk out you suddenly realise the atmosphere for the derby. You can feel how much it means to the fans because of the rivalry through history. JT said you will see this is the one we cannot lose. That was the first time but then people get reminded year after year, team after team. It just rolls on. It stays within the club. Every time you know when these special games come up.

I played in some north London derbies for Arsenal and I have to say you can really feel the rivalry, but not only for a couple of days before. You can see these games coming. It's a real extreme and it’s interesting to be involved. But I would say Chelsea versus Spurs is really there for our fans, that is why it has that feeling.

When saving against Spurs changed it for me at Chelsea

Over the years you play Arsenal, you play other London teams, you play tough games against Liverpool, Man City and Man United. There's a lot of big games but this one against Tottenham always had the special feeling.

The one game I played against Tottenham that sticks in my mind most is probably the first one. It was significant for me more than for anybody else, it was a 0-0 draw, but when I started playing instead of Carlo Cudicini there were a lot of people who couldn't understand why he didn’t start the season as number one, as he was one of the best players for two or three seasons before. I could feel that in the first four or five games so there was a lot of pressure on me.

In this game at Stamford Bridge, there was a particular moment where there was a cross and a Robbie Keane header from six yards out and I made a good save that was decisive in keeping the clean sheet. From that moment on I felt that people now realise I can play and will probably help the team to win more games than lose. I felt that people started getting to know me better, supported me better, and I became part of the team.

So this is one I always remember but another is when we won 5-1 in 2012. That's a big win for a semi-final of the FA Cup.

These are the moments you value and remember, as I am sure the current team will with the victory they had on Sunday.

They showed how good they are at the moment, that even in some difficult moments they always find a way to overcome them, and the second half was an absolutely brilliant performance although the score could have been even bigger.

In my last column, we were talking about goalkeepers and the Tottenham and Aston Villa games showed how important it is to have everybody in the squad ready to help. Everybody counts and we could see that again when Edou couldn't play. Kepa stepped in for the game, had a good game and helped the team to a clean sheet and the win. This shows how everybody is important, because you never know when you need people.


Early start, early finish

On Saturday the team has a big match at Stamford Bridge. A 12.30pm kick-off game can feel a strange time because you wake up, you have your breakfast and go to the stadium when usually you play later in the afternoon or you are used to big Champions League games in the evening.

But playing Man City is a big game, and when you have a big game, you don't care what time you play. When you have big games like this Saturday, players don't need to find any extra motivation. These are the games where it is always great to be involved.

You know it's a significant game in terms of table position, three points always give you a big advantage, and as it's a rerun of the Champions League final and we beat them three times in a row, Man City will be saying they need to do something about it. This has become a rivalry as well.

If you get the result in a game like this, you can really enjoy the rest of the football for the weekend. You start early, you finish early, you can watch the other games and enjoy the rest of the day with the family, have a nice meal with the good feeling that it was a great win.

That's the advantage of the early game – if you manage to win!
 

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